News Release

New research looks at performance in academy schools

The performance of academy schools comes under the spotlight today with the publication of a new study by National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

Commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), the report looks at how performance in academy secondary schools compares to performance in similar non-academies, in an attempt to find out whether becoming an academy has led to better progress for pupils than they might have made otherwise.

Academy schools are schools that are independent of direct accountability to local authorities, being directly funded by and accountable to central government, and currently make up more than half of all secondary schools in England. The report looked at results from both sponsored and converter academies separately.

Key findings include:



NFER’s Chief Executive, Carole Willis, said “Similar to previous research, these findings suggest that, on average, sponsored academies improve the attainment progress of pupils over time compared to similar non-academies, partly through a greater emphasis on equivalent qualifications. The fact that results in academies appear to improve over time highlights the importance of continuing to monitor progress in these schools over the longer term.”

These findings will be incorporated into a new independent and authoritative research review to be published by NFER later this year, bringing together the evidence on academies from a wide range of sources.

You can find the report by clicking here.


An academy school is a school that is accountable directly to the Secretary of State for Education instead of its local authority.

A sponsored academy is a school that is strongly encouraged to become an academy following poor exam performance and/or a judgement of inadequate school performance from Ofsted.

A converter academy is a school that chooses to become an academy. An assessment of ‘performing well’ based on a number of criteria is used if a school is applying to convert as a stand-alone academy. Any school can apply to become an academy as part of a chain and then different criteria apply to the group of schools as a whole.

For more details, please click here.